Power Your Brain
Think your diet doesn’t have much impact on your brain function? Think again. There is a wealth of evidence to show that a healthy balanced diet supports life-long brain health. In fact, scientific evidence indicates that a healthy diet – that includes whole grains, vegetables and fruit – helps maintain brain function, slow memory decline and may help reduce the risk for Alzheimer’s1 disease.
“Canadians of all ages can benefit from making a stronger connection between how our diet impacts our overall brain health, how it ages and how we learn,” says Dr. Greenwood, senior scientist, Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest, Professor, Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Toronto and new advisor to The Healthy Grains Institute (HGI), a not-for-profit organization that shares leading scientific research to help Canadians make informed decisions about the food they eat. “A healthy diet, coupled with a healthy lifestyle, helps decrease our risk of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease – which contribute to poor brain health.”
Greenwood, one of Canada’s leading experts in brain health and nutrition, recently co-authored the informative book Mindfull: Over 100 Delicious Recipes for Better Brain Health (HarperCollinsCanada; on sale September 19, 2013; $24.99 CAN), which draws insight from her extensive research on the relationship between nutrition and brain health.
“Eating wholesome foods every day from an early age plays a significant role in having a healthy brain throughout your lifetime,” says Dr. Julie Miller Jones, Professor, Nutritionist and member of the Scientific Advisory Council for the HGI, “Balanced Diets, such as the Mediterranean diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fish and good fats, have been shown to be associated with lower risks of all types of cognitive decline, including Alzheimer’s disease.” Simple steps such as following Canada’s Food Guide for Healthy Eating can keep us energized and focused throughout the day and contribute to better brain health long term. This includes a nutrient-rich variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, fish and good quality oils as part of a balanced diet.
Studies have found that older adults who consume the nutrient-rich diet recommended in Canada’s Food Guide have better levels of cognitive function. Consuming a high-quality, diet also:
Provides abundant fuel to sustain energy needed to perform at work and school without mid-day mental and physical slumps;
Strengthens blood vessels, so more oxygen and nutrients reach every cell in our body;
Nourishes areas of our brain that are actively involved in speech, learning and reasoning;
Protect our body and brain against inflammation and oxidative stresses – precursors to chronic conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease;
Promote the growth of new brain cells and new neural connections.